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Dog racing - the end?

Chronicle Opinion

March 12, 2014
By John Speer - Editor , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

It sparked gambling in Iowa - a trio of dog racing licenses (and one for a horse track) were issued in July, 1984.

Waterloo, Dubuque and Council Bluffs were recipients of pari-mutual dog track licenses and of course, Polk County (Altoona) received the coveted horse racing track license.

Waterloo was doomed from the start. Racing dates were allowed for wintertime there. Snow affected the races, and the bettors ability to get to the track. Some feeble attempt was made to save the venture with off-track betting allowed there on other races.

Article Photos

But it went belly-up and the Meskwaki Casino operation even took charge of the property for a number of years while it sat idle.

Meanwhile, Council Bluffs and Dubuque dog tracks fared well. That was, until Iowa took the next step - riverboat casinos. They took to the waters in 1991.

At Dubuque in 1991 the track handle (total amount wagered) was $28 million - 1997 - $8 million - 2013 -$4.3 million. Similarly, Council Bluffs had a 1991 handle totaling $67 million - 1997 - $37 million - 2013 - $16 million. (Source: Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.)

Prairie Meadows, was already doing poorly before the slot machines arrived and filed for bankruptcy in November, 1991.

Slot machines spelled what appeared to be demise of racing in Iowa.

Until 1995.

In order to save the Polk County track and shore up Council Bluffs and Dubuque dog tracks, the legislature authorized adding full-fledged casinos to the track operations.

It was a two-edged sword, however, - Both after riverboat gambling was legalized and after the slot machines were allowed at the dog tracks.?

Now it's reported the fans and wages are few on the dogs and the casinos want rid of them. The Horseshoe in Council Bluffs and Mystique at Dubuque are reported willing to fork over upwards of $75 million over the course of the next few years to be allowed to shut down the dog tracks.

Dog racing interests are reported willing to take a sizable payout along with a provision allowing a new casino and dog track is allowed at Ottumwa.

The leaders of both the Iowa House and Senate said last week they want the issue ironed out this year.

Here's betting if the dog owner's casino and track proposal is changed for a Polk County location we'd see a done deal.

 
 

 

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